University Hosts Music and Cultural Diplomacy Symposium

Music can be considered a universal language that defies cultural borders. On March 27, in collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra Office of Education and Community Outreach and the Melody for Dialogue Among Civilizations Association, Northeastern University will join in the conversation by hosting a historic symposium that will explore the role that music can play in promoting mutual understanding, enhanced communication and improved interaction and cooperation between cultures.

The Music and Cultural Diplomacy Symposium at Northeastern is the latest in a series of events that began as a symposium and concert held at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris in November 2007. “Music as a Means of Intercultural Dialogue” investigated how music helps people communicate, understand and respect one another in a globalizing world.

Similarly, “the Music and Cultural Diplomacy Symposium will foster dialogue about music’s ability to unite people as citizens of the world,” said Anthony De Ritis, professor and chair of the music department at Northeastern University. ”The symposium will bring together key international players, as well as those on the national scene, who share a belief that music can be used as a force for mutual understanding and peace between cultures.”

Invited participants include ethnomusicologists, ethnologists, historians, musicologists, authors, musicians, composers, lawyers, as well as representatives of academia, governments, non-governmental and international organizations and the private sector.

A momentous panel presentation led by Hans d’Orville, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Strategic Planning, will include:

– Anthony Fogg, Artistic Administrator, Boston Symphony Orchestra
– Laura Freid, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, The Silk Road Project
– Michael Greenwald, Director, Musicians without Borders USA
– Mehri Madarshahi, President, Melody for Dialogue Among Civilizations Association
– Kay Kaufman Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of African and African American Music, Harvard University
– Anthony Trecek-King, Artistic Director, Boston Children’s Chorus
– Tony Woodcock, President, New England Conservatory

Additional events will include a concert at the Boston Symphony Orchestra featuring conductor Charles Dutoit and violinist Lisa Batiashvili, and a free multicultural concert at Northeastern’s Fenway Center featuring musicians from Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, the New England Spiritual Ensemble, pianist Donald Berman, composer Su Lian Tan, and the premiere of De Ritis’ “Let the sun shine in the night time,” a narrated setting of “The Peace Poem,” written by over 400 elementary and middle school students throughout the world and submitted to the United Nations’ Cyberschoolbus ( The composition, written for Chinese erhu, pipa, guitar, Persian tar, flute, percussion and four narrators, will be led by Del Lewis, the Director of Northeastern’s Center for the Arts.

Panelists participating in the symposium roundtable include Maure Aronson, Executive Director, World Music/CRASHarts; Anne Caufriez, President, European Society of Ethnomusicology; Judith Eissenberg, Founder and Director of MusicUnitesUs; Esther Nelson, General and Artistic Director, Boston Lyric Opera; Jon Solins, Program Director, WGBH radio; Atesh Sonneborn, Associate Director, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings; Nadav Tamir, Consul General of Israel, New England; and Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

For more information please visit or contact Samantha Fodrowski at 617-373-5427 or